Tauranga’s new MP Sam Uffindell has had a cracking start to his new role, arriving in Wellington on Monday, fresh from his win in the city’s by-election.
The Weekend Sun caught up with him ahead of his flight to the nation’s capital.
“I’m looking forward to getting down to Wellington, finding out where the kitchen and bathroom is, meeting the caucus on Tuesday and playing whatever part I’m asked to play,” says Sam.
Preliminary election results on Saturday show Uffindell has 10,931 votes with Labour List MP Tinetti losing to him with 4893 votes, a margin of 6038.
Sam says he’s looking forward to representing his constituents and is focussed on what he campaigned on. “Tackling crime and gangs, address our roading situation and cost of living, restoring local democracy.
“I’m looking forward to representing Tauranga, getting down to Wellington and being a hardworking person on Christopher Luxon’s high performing National team.”
He’s expected home from Wellington tonight, after taking care of administration details with the new role. He’s thankful for his wife Julia’s family living only 10 minutes up the road.
“That’s crucial for the stability of our household and making sure everything runs well at home.”
He and Julia are friends with BOP MP Todd Muller and his wife Michelle, so already have a fair idea of what’s involved with the job. He also received some helpful advice from former MP Simon Bridges during the campaign.
“Sam deserves to be really chuffed by his big win,” says Simon. “It was a great result and his family will rightly feel proud. I think Sam has the right experience and values to make an excellent MP.
“Down in Wellington, the trick is to get the balance between Parliamentary work and local focus right. Both are important but in the early years being highly visible locally and learning what issues matter to locals is vital to long-term achievement.”
Central part of WBOP
Simon says while there’s a sense that being an electorate MP anywhere is a significant privilege, there are a few things about representing Tauranga that make it special. “The Tauranga seat represents that central part of the Western BOP and so always receives a bit more attention than the surrounding electorates.
“In addition, the area has consistently in recent decades been one of and sometimes the highest-growth centre in New Zealand. Being a leader in a high growth city requires extra care, skill and attention. I think Sam is a fast learner and will handle all this well. I wish Sam every success,” says Simon.
“I’m incredibly grateful to Simon and Maree Brookes for establishing such a strong army of people,” says Sam.
He’s wasting no time, with one of his goals for the first 100 days to introduce a member’s bill giving Police greater power to stop gang convoys.
“I’d also like to try and get together with people in the city, some of the commercial building holders, council, university and other folk to see where we can collaborate and make Tauranga a tech capital, and bring start-ups into the CBD.
Unique value (sidehead)
“I think we have such a unique value proposition here with our fantastic coastline and city. Why wouldn’t people want to come here? We have a lot of leverage with our horticulture and agriculture business so it makes sense to get them in here.”
Sam’s also reached out to the non-government community organisations across the city.
“I’ve spoken with some of the NGOs and see the fantastic work they are doing. I’d like to see more government support for those doing effective work in the community. Let’s empower them.
“Ultimately we’re about achieving outcomes.”
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